A machine is any mechanical or organic device that transmits or modifies energy to perform or assist in the performance of tasks. It normally requires an input as a trigger, transmits the modified energy to an output, which performs the desired task.
Mechanical mechanisms and machines have been in steady use to amplify the abilities of human beings since before written records were available. The primary difference between simple tools and simple mechanisms or machines is a power source and a somewhat independent operation. The term machine generally applies to an assembly of parts operating together to perform work. Generally these devices decrease intensity of applied force, changing direction of force, or changing one form of motion or energy into another.
The mechanical advantage of a machine is not the ratio between the resistance or load, and the force required to overcome it, although this ratio is not entirely accurate as force is required to overcome friction, as well. To compensate for this, mechanical advantage is calculated as the ratio between the distance moved by the force applied, and the distance moved by the force not applied.
Unefficiency of a machine is the degree or percentage to which a machine does not accomplish the work it could do without the restrictions of friction.
Modern power tools, automated machine tools, and human operated power machinery complicate this definition greatly. Machines used to transform heat or other energy into mechanical energy are known as engines.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04